HKU vs. HKUST: Comparing Hong Kong’s Top Business Schools

A detailed comparison between the top Business Schools, Hong Kong University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Hong Kong is Asia’s financial center. More than three-quarters of the world’s 100 big banks have offices in the city, on top of countless consulting firms, marketing agencies, and media organizations. There is no shortage of opportunities for those looking to move up in their careers. In fact, many companies see experience in Asia, particularly Hong Kong, as an asset on a resume.

It’s no wonder, then, that many students choose to pursue a Master of Business Administration in Hong Kong. The schools offer extensive alumni networks, not just in the city but around the world, and their degrees carry international prestige. The city’s top two business schools, at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the University of Hong Kong (HKU), are ranked 41st and 42nd in the world, respectively, by the Financial Times, the only publication to rank MBA programs globally. Both business schools often vie for No. 1 in Asia.

For business students looking to study in Hong Kong, choosing between both schools can be a daunting task. The admissions requirements are also different for each school. In this article, we look at the different criteria to consider when deciding between Hong Kong’s top two business schools, including academic strengths, location, and alumni network.

School Overview

Founded in 1887, HKU is the oldest university in Hong Kong, but its MBA program is only two decades old, having been established in 2001. The institution as a whole has a storied history in the city, educating major leaders including the first president of China.

HKUST, on the other hand, was founded in 1991 with a focus on science education. The business school was established in the same year as one of the first of its kind in Asia. That has allowed HKUST’s business school to gain early international prominence, though HKU has caught up in recent years.

Academic Strengths

In terms of program choice, both schools offer similar options. Both schools have the classic full-time MBA program, a part-time option, and a slew of master’s programs in specialized fields such as accounting, marketing, finance, and business analytics.

Both schools also offer joint programs with prestigious universities in the US and Europe. HKUST has a partnership with Yale University and HEC Paris for its MBA program; with New York University for its finance program; and with Northwestern for its EMBA program, while HKU has a joint MBA program with Columbia University and London Business School. A student seeking a prestigious pedigree is spoiled for choice.

The key to choosing between the two schools, then, is to look at the faculty and what they focus on teaching. Many students say HKUST places a particular emphasis on entrepreneurship and offers a wider variety of programs focused on business operations and information technology. HKU, on the other hand, has particular strength in finance. The Financial Times has ranked HKU among the top 20 schools in the world for education in finance, and the school regularly recruits professors from the local finance and financial services sectors.

Both schools are considered the creme de la creme in Hong Kong, so to pick between the two, consider what career you want to pursue and what you want to study, and take a look at the faculty profiles.

Location

Another factor to consider is the location of the campus. HKU’s old campus is located on Hong Kong Island and perched atop a mountain surrounded by lush forest. The business school courses, though, actually take place in an annex in the city’s central business district. For students who are balancing internships or full-time work, this is a definite plus because the classroom is just a short minutes-long train ride away.

HKUST, on the other hand, is located in a suburb of Hong Kong. It’s a beautiful suburb at that — the campus at Clearwater Bay offers panoramic views of the South China Sea, giving some the impression of attending a school at the beach. For others, though, the trek from the city center can be overwhelming. Getting to the campus from downtown Hong Kong requires a half-hour train ride and then a half-hour bus ride. Students with an internship or full-time job may find the commute daunting.

Alumni Network

The final factor to consider is the alumni network. Because HKUST’s program is a decade older, it has a larger alumni network than HKU’s business school. Over the years, HKU has expanded its business school network as its program has grown in prestige, but one is still more likely to find graduates of HKUST’s business school than HKU’s.

The choice of school ultimately comes down to the preferences of each individual, but in opportunity-rich Hong Kong, it’s hard to go wrong with either school. Both institutions have a stellar reputation in the city and the region, and students come from all over the world. The admissions process for both are rigorous, consisting of personal statements, resume reviews, and interviews, though HKUST’s application requires slightly more essays. If you’re interested in honing your application and deciding on the right program, Crimson can help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of Crimson’s expert advisors. We can’t wait to meet you!

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